Lord Ouseley on statistics issued by CST
Lord Herman Ouseley, Chair of Kick It Out, has labelled statistics issued by the Community Security Trust (CST) showing record levels of antisemitic incidents in the UK last year as ‘appalling’.
A report by the CST, which provides security for Britain’s Jewish community and monitors antisemitism, said the number of incidents had more than doubled to 1,168 in 2014. It is the highest figure since the trust began monitoring in 1984. “Antisemitic reactions to the conflict in Israel and Gaza” were the biggest factor behind the rise, the CST said.
During the summer, Kick It Out published statistics on the level of reports of discrimination sent to the organisation for the 2013/14 season. They showed that faith-based abuse – with antisemitism making up all but one complaint – was the second most common form of discrimination reported to Kick It Out with 58 incidents in total.
Lord Ouseley said: “These statistics from the CST are appalling, but not surprising, as we have seen complacency among our rulers, communicators, educators and decision-makers when it comes to taking a zero-tolerance approach towards all forms of prejudice and hatred. As a society we clearly need to do more to counter prejudice, bigotry and ignorance in Britain.
“Although much is being done to raise awareness about the Holocaust memorial and education, there are increasing levels of antisemitic views and abuse which are being overlooked and enabling perpetrators to feel empowered to do what they like, as they feel that they can get away with it.
“Kick It Out supports the fantastic work of the CST and will collaborate with organisations looking to rid British society of all forms of prejudice which dehumanises others and denies them the right to live, work and rest without the fear of harassment, abuse and violence.”
The CST recorded 314 incidents in July – the highest ever recorded in a single month. It said almost half the offenders made reference to Gaza or Palestinians. However, it said the number of incidents had already risen significantly in the first six months of the year, before the summer’s conflict.
The report said the increase was most marked in London – where the number of incidents rose by 137% to 583 – and in Greater Manchester, where the number rose by 79% to 309. It said there were 81 violent antisemitic assaults across the UK in 2014. One, in London last September, was classified as “extreme”.
The victim was subjected to verbal abuse and was hit with a glass and a baseball bat, the report said. Most assaults were random attacks on Jewish people in public places, it added. It said 19 involved objects – usually eggs – being thrown at “visibly Jewish” people from cars.
Eight were assaults on synagogue congregants going to or from prayers, the report said, and four targeted Jewish schoolchildren on their way to or from school. In addition, there were more than 300 reported incidents of verbal abuse – apparently randomly directed at Jewish people in public.
For instance, in Manchester in November a 12-year-old girl was walking along the street when someone in a passing car shouted antisemitic abuse at her. The report noted 233 cases of abuse or threats on social media last year, compared to 88 in 2013. An image of Hitler, with the caption “Yes man, you were right” was widely shared over the summer.
Social media is also being used to spread antisemitic messages, along with graffiti on the homes of Jewish people. Several cemeteries have also been desecrated – including one in Manchester in February: “Jewish slag” was daubed on gravestones.
The report showed an increase in the number of incidents involving schools, Jewish schoolchildren or staff: 66 in 2014, compared with 32 the year before. Children at one Jewish primary in north London told the BBC last month they had experienced antisemitism while travelling to school and on school trips.
They had also begun to practice what to do in case armed intruders attacked their school. The most visible Jewish communities in Britain are the ultra-Orthodox, the Haredim: they wear traditional clothes, with men bearded and wearing skullcaps. Britain’s biggest Haredi community is in Stamford Hill, east London.
Last week one far-right activist said he was planning a protest there next month – against “Jewification”, according to a poster he put on Facebook. A leading figure in the Haredi community, Rabbi Avraham Pinter, said some in the community feared it might inflame tensions.
But he said they had been “overwhelmed” by support from all quarters, especially other faith groups. David Delew, Chief Executive of the trust, said the increase in recorded incidents “shows just how easily antisemitic attitudes can erupt into race hate abuse, threats and attacks”.
Theresa May, Home Secretary, said the new figures were “deeply concerning”, and she was committed to working with Jewish leaders and police to tackle antisemitism. Yvette Cooper, Shadow Home Secretary, said this was “an important report” which “must serve as a warning to everyone”.
The Metropolitan Police said hate crime “remains largely under reported” and urged victims to come forward. In a statement, it said recent events had made Jewish communities “anxious” and said it was providing more patrols in “key areas” and was “closely monitoring the situation”.
From BBC News